Meaning and Representation

Meaning relates to individual or collective perceptions of place. Representation is how a place is portrayed or ‘seen’ in society. Both can change over time and can also vary between people and communities.

Meaning of place

Sense of place is its meaning as influenced by our interactions with it. Developing a sense of place is very important, as research suggests that connecting to one’s surroundings establishes knowledge of and appreciation for its resources. Sense of place supports development of personal identity.

Place can create memories. Place-memory refers to the ability of place to make the past come to life in the present. It may occur through physical buildings and artefacts for example.

Sense of place can be contrasted to perception of place, which as opposed to being developed through personal experience, is developed through what people have heard, seen or read about a place. For example, Dartmoor, in Devon, is closely linked to ideas of nature and wilderness in The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. A lot of contemporary media portrays this about Dartmoor as well, often ignoring the human activities and conflicts, like mining, farming, quarrying, and military training.